Fall is a wonderful time of year. I love all the signs and symbols that celebrate the arrival of autumn. I am already seeing hay bails, straw men, pumpkins, squash, and Indian corn. The neighborhood kids are picking out costumes. My three-year old wants to be a fairy like Abby on Sesame Street. I lean toward something more in the vein of a scary fairy, but I realize I am all alone on that idea. Not even our dogs could support that one. It is widely known in our household that I give extra candy for a scary costume.
As the day shorten, and the temperature dips, the rich colors of harvest seem to be a natural pause in the year to offer Thanks.
During the fall I preach a lot about, thankfulness, and gratitude. Harvest and abundance go hand and hand with gratitude. The experience of Thankfulness and gratitude is not some generalized well wish upon the stars; rather an act of prayerful thankfulness and gratitude is intended for a specific recipient, a specific Holy Other. God is at work in our lives and world in extraordinary ways, and, all too often, we forget to say one very simple phrase, “thank you”.
A minister friend of mine, a pediatrician turned Episcopal Priest once told me, “If God would stop showing me all these miracles and blessings, I’d be happy to shut up.”
Petitioning God in prayer is one very important aspect to faith, however it isn’t the only one. Thanking God is equally as important.
The Bible has a familiar story about Jesus healing ten lepers, but only one returns. That one is a dreaded Samaritan. But surprise, the Samaritan says thank you to Jesus, while the other nine, don't bother. What's up with that?
For the Samaritan, the healing was an extraordinary surprise and gift. He didn't expect it. So he said thank you and was lost in thankfulness and gratitude. Of the ten lepers, which one of them was really blessed? I think it is the one who knew his healing was a gift and retuned to Jesus to say thank you.
Gratitude might be the purest form of spiritual expression and maturity. The absence of gratitude might reveal something different. It reveals a deserving, and entitled attitude, and if you know any of these people, we know that deserving and entitled people do not need to thank anyone, ever, and least of all, God. Why say thank you, when the world owes you.
As the days shorten, the colors change, the leaves fall, may we all take time during each day to offer thanks.
May it be so for you, and for me.
— Rev Dan